Milwaukee (4-5) got seven scoreless innings from Chase Anderson, and Jonathan Villar hit his third home run of the year, as the Brewers beat Toronto (1-7) 2-0 Wednesday night.
Anderson was fantastic in his second-longest outing in his Milwaukee career, mixing and matching his fastball and change up to fluster a Blue Jays lineup that has given pitchers fits in recent years. He gave up just three hits and struck out seven batters on his way to his first win of the year.
“This is the best I’ve seen him,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He just had really good stuff.”
Anderson handed the game over to relievers Corey Knebel and Neftali Feliz, with the latter picking up his third save of the season.
The Brewers didn’t give Anderson much help offensively, but they did just enough. Outfielder Keon Broxton doubled home a run in the second inning, while Villar’s 429-foot homer in the sixth inning provided some breathing room to help Milwaukee get their first back-to-back wins of the year.
Counsell’s club will now head to Cincinnati for a four-game series starting Thursday night.
The Milwaukee Brewers ruined Opening Day in Toronto last night, coming out 4-3 winners against the Blue Jays.
The Crew got another very good outing from Wily Peralta, who picked up his second win of the season by going six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and striking out seven. The veteran also walked four.
His outing was backed by a trio of relievers – Jacob Barnes, Corey Knebel and Neftali Feliz – who didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings. Feliz earned his second save of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Milwaukee was paced offensively by Domingo Santana, who had a pair of RBI’s, including a home run in the fifth inning that proved to be all the scoring the Brewers would need.
Outfielder Keon Boxton went 2 for 5 and hit the first home run of his season, while catcher Manny Pina continued his hot start with three hits in four plate appearances to push his batting average to .429 through eight games.
All of the damage Milwaukee did came against starter J.A. Happ, who fell to 0-2 on the year. He gave up the four runs on nine hits, while also striking out eight batters.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Milwaukee, while the Blue Jays fell to 1-5 on the year, the worst start in franchise history.
The second and final game of the quick interleague series is tonight at the Rogers Centre. First pitch is set for 6:07 p.m.
PHOENIX — Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell addressed reporters Monday at Maryvale Baseball Park, but wasn’t yet ready to hand over the keys to the “closer” position for newcomer Neftali Feliz.
“Neftali is going to get really important outs for us,” Counsell said. “That’s what we signed him to do.”
Perhaps that’s Counsell’s politically-correct approach to allowing competition this spring, but so far, no other candidates have stuck out as legitimate replacements for Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith.
Feliz was signed to a one-year, $5.35 million guaranteed contract on Jan. 19 after failing to reach a multi-year extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates in November. The 28-year-old 2010 AL Rookie of the Year posted a 3.52 ERA and 1.137 WHIP with the Pirates last season.
“He’s got a track record, Counsell said. “What we saw last year was him getting back to the player that broke into the big leagues and was really a dynamic arm and reliever, and capable of great things.”
Feliz is no stranger to pitching in late innings, but after the Texas Rangers tried to convert him to a starter in the 2012 season, he injured his throwing arm and underwent Tommy John surgery which kept him out for the entire 2013 season.
It’s possible Counsell doesn’t want to bank on Feliz’ resurgence in 2016 as means that he’ll be able to last an entire season in Milwaukee as the closer. But with no other real options at this point in spring training, it would appear it’s just a matter of time before Counsell makes the label official.